As the days get colder and shorter, we will be heading outside one last time for the year before packing away the grill and welcoming winter to our midst. For Week 2 we prepared marinated pork tenderloin. This week we once again turn to our porcine friend as we brine, stuff, and grill pork chops. As we did last week, we will serve up a side dish, the delectable grilled zucchini salad. For our vegetable we resort once again to our good friend corn on the cob, only this time we will be doing it Santa Fe style with a zesty dressing.
But enough talk. Let’s get cooking!
What you need
- 4 double thick bone-in loin end pork chops
- 1 cup kosher salt (Make absolutely sure to use kosher salt, not table salt, because table salt has smaller crystals and will make the meat taste too salty.)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 pound ice cubes
- 1-1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled
- 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 small zucchinis
- 1 medium tomato
- 1/4 cup pitted ripe olives (fresh if possible; otherwise rinse off brine and remove pimentos)
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Santa Fe corn on the cob
- 6 medium ears sweet corn
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced fine or shredded
- 1/4 cup steak sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
I know that looks like a daunting list of ingredients, but trust me, it’s quite easy to assemble. We’ll just break it down and take it one step at a time.
To the kitchen!
Lightly crack the peppercorns by tapping with a meat tenderizer on a wooden cutting board and tap them with a meat tenderizer). In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, mix the peppercorns, salt, brown sugar, mustard powder, and vinegar until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add ice and stir until melted. Pour the brine in a large plastic bowl or one-gallon zip-top bag and add the pork chops. Refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours. Do not let the pork brine for more than two hours, or it will taste extremely salty!
Meanwhile, soak the corn in cold water for one hour.
While the corn and chops soak, prepare the salad. Thinly slice the zucchini. Cut the tomato in half and remove the seeds; dice into small pieces. Chop green onions and mix with tomatoes and olives into a bowl. In another bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Toss the dressing into the vegetables and refrigerate. In a microwave-safe dish, combine the garlic and butter; heat for two minutes, or until garlic is softened, stirring once. Stir in the steak sauce, chili powder, and cumin.
Remove pork chops from the brine, rise thoroughly, and pat dry with a paper towel. Mix the cornbread, walnuts, buttermilk, pepper, salt, and sage and pour into a piping bag with no tip. (If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a zip-top bag with a corner cut off). Take a paring knife and cut a horizontal slot into the middle of chop. Fill the pocket with stuffing from the bag. Do not overfill.
Carefully peel back the corn husk to one inch from the bottom, removing the silk. Brush the corn with the sauce, rewrap the corn with the husk and secure the husk with butcher’s twine.
Dump the salad from the mixing bowl into a double layer of aluminum foil and wrap.
To the grill!
And with that we are ready to light the grill. Light the charcoal and allow it to burn down. (Wait, what? Some of you are still using gas grills!? Fine, if you must be difficult, just set your grill to medium high.)
Place the salad over indirect heat for 10-15 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. After the zucchini has been on the grill for about 5 minutes place the pork chops on the grill at a 45-degree angle and grill for six minutes per side, turning the chop 45-degrees after three minutes to give it the fancy diamond-grill pattern. Remove the zucchini to a plate when you flip your chops and replace with the corn. Remove the pork chops to a second plate and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for five minutes. When you remove the chops, flip the corn onto the other side and cook an additional five minutes. Corn should not remain on the grill much longer than 10 minutes. Remove to a third plate.
Bring into the house and enjoy!